Your child’s growth and development will reap many benefits from regular stretching. As your child’s bones grow, her muscles need extra stretching to keep up or she increases her risk of injury. Stretching also increases flexibility, relaxes and lengthens muscles, reduces tension and feels good. Introduce basic stretching exercises to your child so she has healthy, flexible muscles that she will maintain into adulthood.
Shoulder Blade Stretch
Even elementary children get sore shoulders from carrying objects, sports and sitting too long with bad posture. To alleviate this problem, have your child stand with her arms outstretched and parallel to the ground. With her thumbs pointing toward the ground, have her stretch her arms back and try to touch her palms. Have her hold the position while breathing normally and then release and repeat.
Touch Your Toes
Standing upright, have your child keep a flat back and bend over at his waist. Encourage him to touch his shins, toes or the floor, which will stretch his hamstring muscles, or the muscles in the back of his thighs. To increase the challenge, have your child move his feet so they are about hip-width apart and bend over with a flat back. His right hand grabs his left ankle and his left hand grabs his right ankle. He can keep his knees slightly bent in the beginning until he masters it over time and is able to fully straighten his legs.
Primary school children need to keep their quadriceps muscles limber, which are in the front of their thighs, to support their growing legs. Have your child stand near a wall for support and lightly touch it with his left fingers. Bending his right knee back so his foot comes toward his butt, your child should grab his right ankle with his right hand. Hold and then repeat with the other leg.
The calf muscles in the lower leg can become sore from all the running around that primary school children do. To keep calf muscles loose, have your child stand by a wall and place both hands against the wall so her arms are straight. Have her step her right foot back and then encourage her to bend her left knee, keeping her right leg straight and right heel on the floor. Have her keep her back straight and her hips and toes pointing toward the wall. Switch legs and repeat on each side.
Your child can stretch anywhere with minimal equipment, but it is important to ensure that your child is stretching correctly to avoid injury. The Mayo Clinic recommends stretching after a warm-up period so your child’s muscles are not cold. After she’s been outside playing or after a light warm-up before soccer practice are appropriate times to incorporate stretching. Your child should remain still during a stretch. Bouncing can cause muscle tears, which leave your child less flexible, so hold each stretch for about 30 seconds, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ensure that your child knows to stop if something hurts during a stretch.
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